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Russian Officials Cite Confession To Link Georgia To Protest


The foreign funding is at the heart of allegations leveled against Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov (right).
The foreign funding is at the heart of allegations leveled against Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov (right).
Russian investigators say an aide to a State Duma deputy has signed a statement alleging that a Georgian official financed an opposition demonstration in Moscow in May that ended in scuffles with police.

Charges of foreign sponsorship are at the heart of a case against Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who has been instrumental in opposition protests targeting Vladimir Putin and Russian democratic failings, and an aide.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on October 22 that Leonid Razvozzhayev, an aide to Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomaryov, voluntarily turned himself in to authorities and supplied a 10-page, handwritten statement.

"In his [statement] Razvozzhayev provided a detailed description of the preparations of mass disorders in Russia along with Sergei Udaltsov, [Udaltsov aide] Konstantin Lebedev, and other individuals," Markin said. "In the same document, he stated that those individuals were involved in the May 6 mass disorders in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow."

Markin also said Razvozzhayev testified that former Georgian lawmaker Givi Targamadze -- an ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili -- financed the demonstration.

He added that Razvozzhayev had been questioned in the presence of his lawyers.

The allegations first emerged when Kremlin-friendly NTV television broadcast the charges on October 5. Two weeks later, officials opened a criminal probe against Udaltsov, Lebedev, and Razvozzhayev.

Disappearance In Ukraine

Razvozzhayev wrote on a Russian website last week that he was "going into hiding."

On October 22, the website LifeNews published video purportedly filmed one day earlier showing Razvozzhayev being led to a car by police officers. He shouts into the camera that he was "tortured for two days" and that "they stole me from Ukraine."

Razvozzhayev's supporters were quoted as saying he was "kidnapped" outside a UN mission in Kyiv where he planned to apply for asylum.

Oleksandra Makovska, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Kyiv, told AFP on October 22 that Razvozzhayev was in the process of registering with her agency.

She said he disappeared after the UN agency advised him to work with a lawyer at a local NGO. She said he disappeared during a break, leaving his belongings behind.

The NGO reported his disappearance to the police in Kyiv.

Udaltsov said on October 22 that the allegations against the three men were groundless and added the claims about Razvozzhayev's confession were either "disinformation" or the result of pressure against him, possibly including torture.

Violetta Volkova, a lawyer representing Razvozzhayev, said the defense was looking into the facts of her client's extradition from Ukraine.

"Of course, we are going to question the grounds for [Razvozzhayev's] unlawful extradition and see which country carried it out," Volkova said, "whether it was a special operation carried out by Russian security services on Ukrainian territory or if it was a Ukrainian operation."

Investigator Markin said charges will be filed against Razvozzhayev in the coming days.

With additional reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS

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